As those who have been freely forgiven by the grace of God through the work of Christ, and as those who have put on the new self that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, we ought to be seen by the world around us as a new kind of humanity that is created after the likeness of Christ himself.
In our Lord’s regenerating work in the life of the apostle Paul, he prophesied that Paul would be his chosen instrument who would carry the Lord’s name and message before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and the trials that followed proved these prophetic words to be true.
As the apostle Paul makes his way to Jerusalem, we notice at every stop along the way Paul “sought out the disciples” in each city that he visited. It is a wise Christian principle and practice to seek out the Christians already present in all the new places that we may find ourselves visiting or relocating to.
Following Jesus requires sacrifice. We must beware of any teaching that disregards this reality. Therefore, we must consider the question, “What has it cost me to follow Jesus?” And what are some things in life that could hold us back from truly being a follower of Jesus?
What is the appropriate response to hearing and embracing the gospel? Sometimes we are told that all we need to do is repeat a prayer and raise our hand. But if this was indeed the way that we were intended to respond to the gospel then there’s no doubt that it would have been made clear right here in Scripture. However, Scripture provides a different answer concerning “What shall we do?”
This is an astounding description of God’s love for man and a beautiful promise to those who love Him back. This is perhaps one of the most awesome sentences in all of Scripture. However, I often fear that this summary statement made by Jesus has been hijacked at times to promote a distorted gospel message.
In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign in Judah, he initiates a project to renovate and repair the temple of the Lord. In the midst of this project, we are given a glimpse into the reality of how far the nation had fallen as we are told that the high priest "found the Book of the Law" during renovations to the temple in Jerusalem. What does it say about the people as a whole when their high priest stumbles upon the very book that he is supposed to be obeying and teaching to the people?
Three times in the last three chapters (8-10) of Mark's account Jesus teaches His followers about His impending suffering, and all three times His followers seem to be too concerned about their own status to even notice what He's saying. They were expecting Christ to establish an earthly kingdom, and therefore they were expecting great privileges as the appointed disciples of the soon-to-be King.
Sin among people and nations produces consequences for the entire people and nation. So many of us assume that our own sins are manageable within our own boundaries of control, but sin is almost never an isolated event that only produces consequences for an individual. Like a wildfire that spreads beyond our control, disobedience to God can bring widespread destruction and damage to those in its midst.
Christian's are called to silence the opposition through their conduct and character. Are we uncompromising in the way that we carry out our calling? Perhaps we need to be reminded and encouraged by the two-sidedness of the coin of our salvation. We must not forget that we have not simply been saved from something, but we have also been saved for something.
Submission and humility are two characteristics contrary to our self-seeking sinful nature. If we are honest with ourselves, the main reason we speak badly about other people and judge others according to our own standards is for self-exaltation. And one natural way to exalt ourselves is to bring others down.
There seems to be a very basic principle within these last words spoken by Jesus to His disciples..... I ought not to concern myself with things that are beyond my understanding and simply focus on that which has been clearly understood. It is not for me to know when God is going to deliver on certain promises and why God does some things the way that He does. It is my concern to receive the power of God dwelling within me, the promised Holy Spirit, and to go be a witness of His gospel to everyone around me.